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SciPost and the Principles of Open Scholarly Infrastructure

SciPost is committed to the Principles of Open Scholarly Infrastructure.

On this page, we provide details on our implementation of these principles.

Implementation table

Note: we first list the POSI principles in table form, marking their relevance and the status of their implementation for SciPost with the following scheme:

Relevance highly relevant mostly relevant partly relevant hardly relevant
Implementation wholly implemented mostly implemented partly implemented barely implemented
Principle Relevance Status Urgency
Coverage across the scholarly enterprise highly relevant partly implemented
Stakeholder Governed mostly relevant mostly implemented
Non-discriminatory participation or membership highly relevant wholly implemented
Transparent governance highly relevant mostly implemented
Cannot lobby mostly relevant mostly implemented
Living will highly relevant partly implemented
Formal incentives to fulfil mission & wind-down hardly relevant barely implemented
Time-limited funds are used only for time-limited activities highly relevant partly implemented High
Goal to generate surplus highly relevant barely implemented High
Goal to create financial reserves highly relevant barely implemented High
Mission-consistent revenue generation highly relevant wholly implemented
Revenue based on services, not data highly relevant wholly implemented
Open source highly relevant wholly implemented
Open data (within constraints of privacy laws) highly relevant mostly implemented
Available data (within constraints of privacy laws) partly relevant partly implemented
Patent non-assertion highly relevant wholly implemented

Implementation details


Coverage across the scholarly enterprise

• research transcends disciplines, geography, institutions, and stakeholders. Organisations and the infrastructure they run need to reflect this.

highly relevant partly implemented

Our activities transcend geography, institutions and stakeholders, as evidenced by the list of Organizations benefitting from our activities. Although the bulk of our activities remains in the the field of Physics (at large), our roadmap is pointing towards a future with coverage extended to other fields.

Further implementation steps
  • expand to other fields

Stakeholder Governed

• a board-governed organisation drawn from the stakeholder community builds confidence that the organisation will take decisions driven by community consensus and a balance of interests.

mostly relevant mostly implemented

SciPost (see our about page) has a multi-layered governance which is deeply embedded within the community. The SciPost Foundation is a nonprofit organization whose board members are university-based staff. An international, multi-disciplinary Advisory Board provides guidance. All editorial activities are driven by our Editorial Colleges composed of Fellows who are by definition professionally active members of the community.

Most of our activities have up to now involved stakeholders in the Western world, although our services have been used by Contributors throughout the world. An increasingly even distribution is expected as our services mature.

Further implementation steps
  • maintain the Advisory Board
  • increase of geographic, ethnic and gender diversity of Editorial Colleges
  • attract contributions from further constituencies

Non-discriminatory participation or membership

• we see the best option as an “opt-in” approach with principles of non-discrimination and inclusivity where any stakeholder group may express an interest and should be welcome. Representation in governance must reflect the character of the community or membership.

highly relevant wholly implemented

SciPost offers its services entirely openly. Contributors are however expected to be professionally active researchers. This striving for quality is however implemented in a non-discriminatory, inclusive fashion. Our governance structures are populated by community members and reflect their evolving character.

Transparent governance

• to achieve trust, the processes and policies for selecting representatives to governance groups should be transparent (within the constraints of privacy laws).

highly relevant mostly implemented

SciPost's By-laws provide a transparent set of mechanisms for maintaining the composition of the Editorial Colleges governing all editorial activities. Members of the Advisory Board are appointed by the SciPost Foundation's board.

Further implementation steps
  • implement a more directly community-based appointment mechanism for the Advisory Board

Cannot lobby

• infrastructure organisations should not lobby for regulatory change to cement their own positions or narrow self-interest. However, an infrastructure organisation’s role is to support its community, and this can include advocating for policy changes.

mostly relevant mostly implemented

This is mostly but not entirely relevant for SciPost. In view of the fact that SciPost's mission has broad and ambitious objectives for reforming academic publishing, we cannot say that we do not lobby to make sure that our initiative survives. On the other hand, it is correct to say that SciPost does not lobby to cement its own position of narrow self-interest, since our interventions with higher instances typically advocate for changes which would benefit similarly-spirited academic publishers. Going further, we will only lobby for changes which are in the interest of the entire research community, to foster access to bleeding-edge research, and providing equal publishing opportunities for all.

Living will

• a powerful way to create trust is to publicly describe a plan addressing the conditions under which an organisation or service would be wound down. It should include how this would happen and how any assets could be archived and preserved when passed to a successor organisation or service. Any such organisation or service must adopt POSI and honour the POSI principles.

highly relevant partly implemented

SciPost does not have a publicly-visible plan for winding down its operations (our priority is to survive!). That said, the most important output of our activities, namely all the publications, would remain accessible beyond SciPost's demise through a CLOCKSS trigger event. We also have a plan to provide all source material for all our publications through our in-house repository server, providing an added layer of redundancy to all the corpus created by our activities.

Further implementation steps
  • launch the (currently in development) publication source files repository system

Formal incentives to fulfil mission & wind-down

• infrastructures exist for a specific purpose, and that purpose can be radically simplified or even rendered unnecessary by technological or social change. Organisations and services should regularly review community support and the need for their activities. If it is possible, the organisation or service (and staff) should have direct incentives to deliver on the mission and wind down.

hardly relevant barely implemented

Currently, in view of the long-term viability of the context in which we operate (scientific publishing) and of our intent to remain responsive to the community's need for continued and innovative services, we do not envision a future where winding down our activities would be the community's wish. That said, SciPost's mission is rooted in and supported by the community; should the community ever consider the mission fulfilled or deprecated, the initiative could then be wound down.


Time-limited funds are used only for time-limited activities

• operations are supported by sustainable revenue sources - whereas time-limited funds are used only for time-limited activities. Depending on grants to fund ongoing and/or long-term infrastructure operations fully makes them fragile and distracts from building core infrastructure.

highly relevant partly implemented urgency: high

Since its inception in 2016, SciPost has survived through institutional sponsorships following our consortial business model. Although many organizations have reliably supported our activities, it would be an exaggeration to qualify our revenue sources as sustainable, in the sense that their contribution is dwarfed by our needs, and fluctuations weigh us down with an existential risk of bankruptcy. We have benefitted from (time-limited) grants to fuel our operations, but concur that this makes us only more fragile and distracts from the installation of a truly sustainable revenue stream.

The ongoing absence of a sustainable revenue source for Diamond-style initiatives such as ours is a problem which neither originates from SciPost, nor can be solved by it (although we do claim that our business model offers a solution to the problem - the solution is on the table, but it remains ineffective if it is not picked up by academic institutions). We view it as a policy failure over the last couple of decades, leading to much delay and misdirection in the quest to reform the publishing business.

Further implementation steps

Goal to generate surplus

• organisations (or services) that define sustainability based merely on recovering costs are brittle and stagnant. It is not enough to merely survive; organisations and services have to be able to adapt and change. To weather economic, social and technological volatility, they need financial resources beyond immediate operating costs.

highly relevant barely implemented urgency: high

We would love to dream of a day where we can count on sufficient support not only to cover our immediate costs, but also to build a bit of a cushion to secure our future and perhaps even turn some of our further development ideas and dreams into reality. In the current APC-pipelining, Diamond-ignoring financial context however, we must be realistic and realize that much work is to be done before achieving this (though our business model makes this entirely realizable).

Further implementation steps

Goal to create financial reserves

• a high priority should be having ring-fenced financial reserves, separate from operating funds, that can support implementing living will plans, including a complete, orderly wind down or transition to a successor organisation, or major unexpected events.

highly relevant barely implemented urgency: high

For this point, we refer to our comments on the previous point. In the current context, for us to be able to create financial reserves would require a sea change at the higher/institutional level, which we have little confidence of seeing in view of current developments. We are waiting to be proved wrong.

Further implementation steps

Mission-consistent revenue generation

• revenue sources should be evaluated against the infrastructure’s mission and not run counter to the aims of the organisation or service.

highly relevant wholly implemented

On this point, we can confidently claim that our business model wholly implements this highly relevant criterion. If there is one thing SciPost does well on the business side, it's aligning revenue sources with the infrastructure's mission.

Revenue based on services, not data

• data related to the running of the scholarly infrastructure should be community property. Appropriate revenue sources might include value-added services, consulting, API Service Level Agreements or membership fees.

highly relevant wholly implemented

SciPost does not generate revenue from data (for example, all metadata for our publications are public domain). We also do not run value-added services, consulting work or paid-for API services (all our APIs are openly accessible). Our revenues are in the end motivated by our publishing activities (we refer once again to our business model for a detailed explanation).


Open source

• all software and assets required to run the infrastructure should be available under an open-source licence. This does not include other software that may be involved with running the organisation.

highly relevant wholly implemented

All software and assets required to run the infrastructure is published under an AGPLv3 license at our in-house repository server (the code for the site itself is in the SciPost repo, also (passively) mirrored at GitHub).

Open data (within constraints of privacy laws)

• For an infrastructure to be forked (reproduced), it will be necessary to replicate all relevant data. The CC0 waiver is the best practice in making data openly and legally available. Privacy and data protection laws will limit the extent to which this is possible.

highly relevant mostly implemented

Publications are openly accessible on our site and archived at CLOCKSS; metadata is deposited at Crossref (public domain). Similarly, submission and refereeing material is openly accessible on our site.

Further implementation steps
  • launch the (currently in development) publication source files repository system

Available data (within constraints of privacy laws)

• it is not enough that the data be “open” if there is no practical way to obtain it. Underlying data should be made easily available via periodic open data dumps.

partly relevant partly implemented

Currently, independently reconstituting the underlying data for all of SciPost's available online content would require scraping. Our upcoming publication source files system will help automate any such process. An open data dump could be created if required by the community, however in view of the data which we handle (mostly: publications) this does not seem to be a pressing requirement.

Patent non-assertion

• the organisation should commit to a patent non-assertion policy or covenant. The organisation may obtain patents to protect its own operations but not use them to prevent the community from replicating the infrastructure.

highly relevant wholly implemented

SciPost's mission of developing, implementing and maintaining innovative forms of electronic scientific communication and publishing for the benefit of the international scientific community and further interested parties is inconsistent with pursuing patents. Everything we develop technology-wise is openly available and reusable.


Bilder G, Lin J, Neylon C (2020), The Principles of Open Scholarly Infrastructure, retrieved 2024-03-11,